Peter Toose


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L-Band response to freeze/thaw in a boreal forest stand from ground- and tower-based radiometer observations
Alexandre Roy, Peter Toose, Alex Mavrovic, Christoforos Pappas, A. Royer, Chris Derksen, Aaron Berg, Tracy Rowlandson, Mariam El-Amine, Alan G. Barr, Andrew Black, Alexandre Langlois, Oliver Sonnentag
Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 237

Abstract The extent, timing and duration of seasonal freeze/thaw (FT) state exerts dominant control on boreal forest carbon, water and energy cycle processes. Recent and on-going L-Band (≈1.4 GHz) spaceborne missions have the potential to provide enhanced information on FT state over large geographic regions with rapid revisit time. However, the low spatial resolution of these spaceborne observations (≈45 km) makes it difficult to isolate the primary contributions (soil, vegetation, snow) to the FT signal in boreal forest. To better quantify these controls, two L-Band radiometers were deployed (September 2016 to July 2017) at a black spruce (Picea mariana) dominated boreal forest site; one unit above and one unit on the ground surface below the canopy to disentangle the microwave contributions of overstory canopy, and the ground surface on the FT brightness temperature (TB) signal. Bi-weekly multi-angular measurements from both units were combined in order to estimate effective scattering albedo (ω) and the microwave vegetative optical depth (τ), using the τ-ω microwave vegetation radiative transfer model. Soil moisture probes were inserted in the trunk of two black spruce and one larch (Larix laricina) trunks located in the footprint of the above-canopy radiometer to measure tree trunk relative dielectric constant (RDCtree). Results showed a strong relationship between RDCtree and tree skin temperature (Ttree) under freezing temperature conditions, which led to a gradual decrease of τ in winter. During the spring thawing period in April and May, τ remained relatively stable. In contrast, it increased substantially in June, most likely in relation to the growing season onset. Overall, τ was related to the seasonal RDCtree cycle (r = 0.76). Regarding ω, a value of 0.086 (±0.029) was obtained, but no dependency on Ttree or RDCtree was observed. Despite the observed impact of FT on vegetation L-Band signals, results from continuous TB observations spanning from 14 September 2016 to 25 May 2017, indicated that the main contribution to the observed L-Band TB freeze-up signal in the fall originated from the ground surface. The above-canopy unit showed some sensitivity to overstory canopy FT, yet the sensitivity was lower compared to the signal induced by the ground FT. In April and May, L-Band radiometer FT retrieval agreed closely to the melt onset detection using RDCtree but it was likely related to the coincident presence of liquid water in the snow. Our findings have important applications to L-Band spaceborne FT algorithm development and validation across the boreal forest. More specifically, our findings allow better quantification of the potential effect of frozen ground on various biogeophysical and biogeochemical processes in boreal forests.


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Effect of snow microstructure variability on Ku-band radar snow water equivalent retrievals
Nick Rutter, Melody Sandells, Chris Derksen, Joshua King, Peter Toose, Leanne Wake, Tom Watts, Richard Essery, Alexandre Roy, A. Royer, Philip Marsh, C. F. Larsen, Matthew Sturm
The Cryosphere, Volume 13, Issue 11

Abstract. Spatial variability in snowpack properties negatively impacts our capacity to make direct measurements of snow water equivalent (SWE) using satellites. A comprehensive data set of snow microstructure (94 profiles at 36 sites) and snow layer thickness (9000 vertical profiles across nine trenches) collected over two winters at Trail Valley Creek, NWT, Canada, was applied in synthetic radiative transfer experiments. This allowed for robust assessment of the impact of estimation accuracy of unknown snow microstructural characteristics on the viability of SWE retrievals. Depth hoar layer thickness varied over the shortest horizontal distances, controlled by subnivean vegetation and topography, while variability in total snowpack thickness approximated that of wind slab layers. Mean horizontal correlation lengths of layer thickness were less than a metre for all layers. Depth hoar was consistently ∼30 % of total depth, and with increasing total depth the proportion of wind slab increased at the expense of the decreasing surface snow layer. Distinct differences were evident between distributions of layer properties; a single median value represented density and specific surface area (SSA) of each layer well. Spatial variability in microstructure of depth hoar layers dominated SWE retrieval errors. A depth hoar SSA estimate of around 7 % under the median value was needed to accurately retrieve SWE. In shallow snowpacks <0.6 m, depth hoar SSA estimates of ±5 %–10 % around the optimal retrieval SSA allowed SWE retrievals within a tolerance of ±30 mm. Where snowpacks were deeper than ∼30 cm, accurate values of representative SSA for depth hoar became critical as retrieval errors were exceeded if the median depth hoar SSA was applied.


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Observing Scattering Mechanisms of Bubbled Freshwater Lake Ice Using Polarimetric RADARSAT-2 (C-Band) and UW-Scat (X- and Ku-Bands)
Grant Gunn, Claude R. Duguay, Donald K. Atwood, Joshua King, Peter Toose
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Volume 56, Issue 5

A winter time series of ground-based (X- and Ku-bands) scatterometer and spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) (C-band) fully polarimetric observations coincident with in situ snow and ice measurements are used to identify the dominant scattering mechanism in bubbled freshwater lake ice in the Hudson Bay Lowlands near Churchill, Manitoba. Scatterometer observations identify two physical sources of backscatter from the ice cover: the snow–ice and ice–water interfaces. Backscatter time series at all frequencies show increases from the ice–water interface prior to the inclusion of tubular bubbles in the ice column based on in situ observations, indicating scattering mechanisms independent of double-bounce scatter. The co-polarized phase difference of interactions at the ice–water interface from both scatterometer and SAR observations is centered at 0° during the time series, also indicating a scattering regime other than double bounce. A Yamaguchi three-component decomposition of the RADARSAT-2 C-band time series is presented, which suggests the dominant scattering mechanism to be single-bounce off the ice–water interface with appreciable surface roughness or preferentially oriented facets, regardless of the presence, absence, or density of tubular bubble inclusions. This paper builds on newly established evidence of single-bounce scattering mechanism for freshwater lake ice and is the first to present a winter time series of ground-based and spaceborne fully polarimetric active microwave observations with polarimetric decompositions for bubbled freshwater lake ice.

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The influence of snow microstructure on dual-frequency radar measurements in a tundra environment
Joshua King, Chris Derksen, Peter Toose, Alexandre Langlois, C. F. Larsen, Juha Lemmetyinen, P. Marsh, Benoît Montpetit, Alexandre Roy, Nick Rutter, Matthew Sturm
Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 215

Abstract Recent advancement in the understanding of snow-microwave interactions has helped to isolate the considerable potential for radar-based retrieval of snow water equivalent (SWE). There are however, few datasets available to address spatial uncertainties, such as the influence of snow microstructure, at scales relevant to space-borne application. In this study we introduce measurements from SnowSAR, an airborne, dual-frequency (9.6 and 17.2 GHz) synthetic aperture radar (SAR), to evaluate high resolution (10 m) backscatter within a snow-covered tundra basin. Coincident in situ surveys at two sites characterize a generally thin snowpack (50 cm) interspersed with deeper drift features. Structure of the snowpack is found to be predominantly wind slab (65%) with smaller proportions of depth hoar underlain (35%). Objective estimates of snow microstructure (exponential correlation length; lex), show the slab layers to be 2.8 times smaller than the basal depth hoar. In situ measurements are used to parametrize the Microwave Emission Model of Layered Snowpacks (MEMLS3&a) and compare against collocated SnowSAR backscatter. The evaluation shows a scaling factor (ϕ) between 1.37 and 1.08, when applied to input of lex, minimizes MEMLS root mean squared error to

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Capturing agricultural soil freeze/thaw state through remote sensing and ground observations: A soil freeze/thaw validation campaign
Tracy Rowlandson, Aaron Berg, Alex Roy, Edward Kim, Renato Pardo Lara, Jarrett Powers, Kristin Lewis, Paul R. Houser, K. C. McDonald, Peter Toose, An-Ming Wu, Eugenia De Marco, Chris Derksen, Jared Entin, Andreas Colliander, Xiaolan Xu, Alex Mavrovic
Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 211

Abstract A field campaign was conducted October 30th to November 13th, 2015 with the intention of capturing diurnal soil freeze/thaw state at multiple scales using ground measurements and remote sensing measurements. On four of the five sampling days, we observed a significant difference between morning (frozen scenario) and afternoon (thawed scenario) ground-based measurements of the soil relative permittivity. These results were supported by an in situ soil moisture and temperature network (installed at the scale of a spaceborne passive microwave pixel) which indicated surface soil temperatures fell below 0 °C for the same four sampling dates. Ground-based radiometers appeared to be highly sensitive to F/T conditions of the very surface of the soil and indicated normalized polarization index (NPR) values that were below the defined freezing values during the morning sampling period on all sampling dates. The Scanning L-band Active Passive (SLAP) instrumentation, flown over the study region, showed very good agreement with the ground-based radiometers, with freezing states observed on all four days that the airborne observations covered the fields with ground-based radiometers. The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite had morning overpasses on three of the sampling days, and indicated frozen conditions on two of those days. It was found that >60% of the in situ network had to indicate surface temperatures below 0 °C before SMAP indicated freezing conditions. This was also true of the SLAP radiometer measurements. The SMAP, SLAP and ground-based radiometer measurements all indicated freezing conditions when soil temperature sensors installed at 5 cm depth were not frozen.

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L-band radiometry freeze/ thaw validation using air temperature and ground measurements
Matthew A. Williamson, Tracy Rowlandson, Aaron Berg, Alexandre Roy, Peter Toose, Chris Derksen, L. Arnold, Erica Tetlock
Remote Sensing Letters, Volume 9, Issue 4

Assessment of remote sensing derived freeze/thaw products from L-band radiometry requires ground validation. There is growing interest in utilizing soil moisture networks to meet this validation re...


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Plot-scale assessment of soil freeze/thaw detection and variability with impedance probes: implications for remote sensing validation networks
Matthew A. Williamson, Justin Adams, Aaron Berg, Chris Derksen, Peter Toose, Anne Walker
Hydrology Research, Volume 49, Issue 1

Abstract Several large in-situ soil moisture-monitoring networks currently exist over seasonally frozen regions that may have use for the validation of remote sensing soil freeze/thaw (F/T) products. However, further understanding of how the existing network instrumentation responds to changes in near surface soil F/T is recommended. This case study describes the results of a small plot-scale (7 × 7 m) study from November 2013 through April 2014 instrumented with 36 impedance probes. Soil temperature and real dielectric permittivity ϵr' were measured every 15 minutes during F/T transition periods at shallow soil depths (0–10 cm). Categorical soil temperature and real dielectric permittivity techniques were used to define the soil F/T state during these periods. Results demonstrate that both methods for detecting soil F/T have strong agreement (84.7–95.6%) during the fall freeze but weak agreement (53.3–60.9%) during the spring thaw. Bootstrapping results demonstrated both techniques showed a mean difference within ±1.0°C and ±1.4 ϵr' between the standard 5 cm below surface measurement depth and probes at 2, 10 and integrated 0–5.7 cm depths installed within the same study plot. Overall this study demonstrates that the Hydra Probe offers promise for near surface soil F/T detection using existing soil moisture monitoring networks particularly for the fall freeze.